At St. Peter's Church-Iglesia San Pedro in Salem, there is a tradition--dating back to the building's origins in the 1800s--in which members of the congregation climb up to the bell tower and sign the doors with their name and the year of their signing. This tradition led to the congregation's recent decision to temporarily remove the doors and place them in the sanctuary during the monthly bilingual community Eucharists and Annual Meeting Sunday Eucharist in order to give everyone an opportunity to sign their name as a member of the parish.
"This was an important decision for our diverse community because it literally opened the door to the opportunity for more hospitality, more welcoming and more inclusion in the life of the parish to all who worship here," the rector of St. Peter's-San Pedro, the Rev. Nathan Ives, said by e-mail.
"Although just signing a door doesn't take much effort, here, over the centuries, it has signified membership in the community, so we wanted to be sure that all people no matter of their recency of membership or ability to access the doors could sign them and feel included on a deeper level in the engagement with this historic church," Ives said.
"It was very moving to see the happiness and zeal with which our Latino congregation members lined up to sign their names on the church doors," junior warden Ana Nuncio said in an e-mail. "Many in our community have lives that are so chaotic and riddled with uncertainty nowadays, that this gesture of offering them a chance to break from their anonymity reassured them and gave them a sense that they were a part of something that would endure for generations to come."
--Bridget K. Wood